TALKING about dying won't kill you. That's one of the messages behind National Palliative Care Week, which runs until May 28.
The annual awareness-raising week organised by Palliative Care Australia is about highlighting the need for Australians to plan ahead for their end-of-life care and to discuss it with their loved ones and health professionals.
The theme of this year's event is 'what matters most?' with events planned around Australia to get people talking about important issues surrounding death and dying.
"Just as we all have preferences in how we live our life, we all have differing ideas for how we want to live and be cared for during our final years, months and weeks," said Palliative Care Tasmania's chief executive Colleen Johnstone.
"By ensuring that a person's individual wishes and needs are met, palliative care can help deliver quality of life and a "good death", helping family members to process and grieve the loss of a loved one."
She said the first step to ensuring your wishes are met is communication - with family, friends, and anyone else with whom you feel comfortable having the discussion.
"Surveys conducted in Australia consistently show that between 60 and 70 per cent of us would prefer to die at home. Currently, only around 14 per cent of us achieve this, with around 50 per cent of people dying in hospital and around 30 per cent in residential facilities."
So this National Palliative Care Week, start the conversation with family members and friends about what matters most to you. It's important to be prepared, regardless of your age or health status.
Palliative Care Australia has Dying to Talk Discussion Starter and online card game on its dyingtotalk.org.au website, which help work out what matters most to you and helps you talk to your loved ones and health professionals. Go to www.dyingtotalk.org.au
Palliative care facts
- Only one in 10 Australians have nominated a person to make health care decisions for them if they were too sick to talk for themselves
- Eight in 10 think it's important to think and talk about their end-of-life care wishes
- Only one in four have actually had the conversation
- 84 per cent of Australians think it's important to be able to spend their final days at home
- Only 65 per cent think they it's likely they will be able to do so
- Seven in 10 Australians think health professionals should talk about the end-of-life care wishes with their patients
- One in three have had a family member receive palliative care
- 85 per cent of Australians think dying is a normal part of life
*Figures from Palliative Care Australia